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Motorhome Life: Taking Dogs Abroad

Motorhoming with a dog and taking it abroad has become an increasingly popular trend for holidaymakers. In recent years, particularly in 2016, ferry companies have reported a significant 29% rise in pet travel on certain routes. This surge reflects the growing interest among pet owners in bringing their beloved dogs along on their motorhome adventures abroad.”

Consideration for Your Dog

Of course, there are several factors that you need to bear in mind before doing this. I’m sure you realise that the process can be as stressful for animals as it is for you as an owner. First of all, is your pet over 15 weeks old and comfortable travelling in a kennel or in your car, often unaccompanied, for several hours?

Secondly, are you sure that the heat of the country you are visiting won’t unduly affect them? For example, thick-coated dogs from a typical UK climate travelling to the South of France at over 40 Degrees is likely to present an unhealthy challenge to your pet.

With these things in mind, it’s worth considering whether it’s in your pet’s best interests to have them travel with you. Perhaps it might be better if they stayed at home with someone you trust or hosted with another caring family through an organisation like Animals at Home. You have to decide what’s best for your pet.

The RSPCA also provide some general advice for going on holiday with your pets.

Get Your Pet a Passport

Pet PassportThe next step is to arrange for your pet to visit the vets to get a pet passport, essentially your dog must be microchipped, and have a rabies vaccination, to which you are not allowed to re-enter the UK for up to 21 days after the rabies injection. It’s also good practice to get some tapeworm treatments too.

Full details can be found by clicking the following link on the UK government website. It has a wealth of information that you mind find interesting, especially if you are going further afield than just Europe.

Check Your Dog’s Microchip

If your dog already holds a pet passport then it is always advisable to visit your vet before you go so that they can make sure the mic chip is working ok – there is nothing worse than arriving at the port and customs are not able to detect or read the chip.

Tapeworm Treatment

A vet must treat your pet for Tapeworm before you return to the UK. It must be recorded in the Pet Passport every time you return to the UK. Treatment must be given up to 5 days (120 hours) before travel. If treatment expires your dog can be refused entry and may well be put into quarantine. Heres a link that explains it all. https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/tapeworm-treatment-dogs

Rabies Vaccination, Boosters and Blood Tests

As this can all get quite complicated you’ll find all the relevant information here: https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/rabies-vaccination-boosters-and-blood-tests

Please note: If you miss a booster vaccination then you may have to get re-vaccinated, blood tested and wait 3 months before travelling.

Your pet passport should always be up to date and the information in it MUST be in the correct place. if it isn’t, you could be stopped from travelling.

Does your Dog have a Tattoo?

However, pets with a legible tattoo applied on or before the July 2011 may also travel. Click on the following link for more information: National Dog Tattoo Register

Although a tattoo is a permanent identifying mark, it must be registered to be of any use. Otherwise, the finder has no way of contacting you. The registry can assign you a code to be tattooed on the dog, or you can use a number that will remain the same for your lifetime, Phone numbers and birth dates are poor choices because they change frequently or can be shared by a large number of people.

Should your Dog wear a Muzzle?

Dog Muzzle Duck Bill

It isn’t ideal, but with some ferry companies, dogs are required to wear muzzles when they are outside their owner’s vehicle, during check-in and transfer on board if staying in a kennel/pet-friendly cabin or while being exercised. Pets must remain under the control of owners and be kept on a lead at all times. Owners must provide the muzzles and remain responsible for their pet’s behaviour at all times. Check with your ferry company to see whether this applies.

Guide Dogs?

Assistance Dogs can normally travel in areas of other forms of transport where other animals aren’t allowed.

They can travel on more routes than people with pets.

Apart from that, the rules for assistance dogs travelling under the EU pet travel scheme are the same as for other dogs.

The main government website is a good source of information on the whole process Click the following link to go to the taking pets abroad pages: https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad

The Guide Dogs Association also has some good advice on travelling abroad with an assistance dog

Pet Insurance

Holidaymakers who take their dogs abroad can face sky-high veterinary bills if they jet off without checking their insurance.

Many people are unaware they are not covered if their dog falls ill, suffers injury or hurts someone else while they are abroad. even if they have normal pet insurance as it won’t cover them abroad.

From recent research, it has been shown that as many as one in three pet insurance policies won’t automatically pay out in these circumstances — leaving owners at risk of crippling vet fees of thousands of pounds.

Some insurance policies do automatically include overseas vet cover on all their standard pet insurance policies and pay out for the full cost of treatment.

But others will only cover the animal if an owner has signed up to a specific Pets Abroad policy. This typically loads an extra £5 a month on to premiums — depending on the pet — but ensures they get the same level of cover as in the UK. Others restrict the size of payouts to cover treatment costs.

Approved Routes

Pet travel: approved air, sea and rail carriers and routes


Preparing to Board the Ferry

It is wise to make sure your pet has had lots of exercise before arriving at the port as this will help them settle, also feed them at least an hour before the journey, be aware that you will need to be at some ports at least an hour before sailing. If you are leaving your pet in your vehicle during the crossing it is advisable to leave toys and familiar bedding. also leave water where they are able to get to it.

On Board Your Ferry

While each ferry company has different processes, Brittany Ferries have both kennels and dog-friendly cabins on some of their ferry crossings, but book early as they are quickly taken (check their website for details) all dogs have to be muzzled while moving from car to kennel or cabin.


P & O Ferries – Dover to Calais – dogs are allowed to travel but must stay in your vehicle during the crossing and passengers with dogs need to check in one hour before departure.


Stena line to Holland (8 hour journey) allow dogs to stay in the vehicles while travelling however you are only able to visit them once during the trip and this is at a specific time, that is about four hours into the journey and could be for as little as 10 mins and is weather permitting. They do say however that a member of staff will be walking round the car deck to check the dog is ok.

However, you could book in advance and arrange for your dog to stay in one of their many kennels on board. This is situated below the car deck and you and your pet will have to walk down a flight of stairs and over high doorway to access the kennels. You may also have to lift your pet up into the small and medium kennels. But with this, there is a small area that you can walk your dog in and also allows you to visit as and when you want – there is a cost for this facility each way.

Please note that guide (assistance) dogs for the visually impaired are allowed onto the passenger desk.)


The other way is to travel to France is via Eurotunnel. They have dedicated pet exercise areas, trained pet staff and when leaving the UK pets are not required to go through any pet controls checks. Checks are only done on the return journey to the UK, also this is only a 35 minute journey and they get to stay in the car with you.

While you’re out there

It is also advisable to check the local government websites for the country you are visiting for up the latest up to date information regarding their countries legislation re taking your dog there

When You Return To The UK

Please be aware of the full range of requirements for bringing your pet back into the UK. Here is a good place to start:


Staff from the travel company will scan your pet’s microchip and check your documents.

If you don’t have the correct documents or your pet hasn’t been properly prepared it will be put into quarantine or sent back to the country it travelled from. You must pay the costs for this.

When leaving the UK pets are not required to go through any pet controls checks. This is only done on the return journey to the UK

Once disembarked you may be subject to an inspection by Debra so please keep your pets documentation close to hand.

It is always advisable to check the local government websites for the country you are visiting for up to date information.

Accessorised pooch

Packing everything you could possibly need for your canine friend may seem as daunting as packing for a small child, but we’ve put together a few essentials you really shouldn’t go without.

Starting with Road Refresher, the water bowl that never spills. You could be travelling for hours at a time, but it is essential that dogs always have access to clean water, so your cheeky Terrier can stay refreshed and be ready to cause more bedlam at the next destination. The bowl has Velcro fastenings which attach to the carpet and a plate inside prevents spillage even during harsh braking.

The Doggy Bag is another must have travel accessory. Available in a range of sizes, so every dog from your faithful Jack Russell to your beloved Great Dane can fit, the Doggy Bag absorbs ten times more water than a regular towel and peels mud, dirt and sand off of your dog and traps it in the bag. And there’s no need to worry about washing it out on the road, these bags only need washing every 1 in 10 uses.

We’re confident you wouldn’t set off without fastening your seatbelt, so why not do the same for the four-legged addition to your family? It not only keeps them safe, but you too; if you were involved in an accident, a loose dog could kill or badly hurt you or your family. Doggy harnesses plug into the seatbelt point or attach to a fixed point of your motorhome. Another option is a soft carry case or crate, although again, it’s important to securely fasten these down.

Top tips
Here at Oaktree Motorhomes we’ve put together a few of our top tips for travelling with your tail-wagging friend from our own experience.

  • Start with short journeys close to home to let your dog acclimatise to your motorhome.
  • On long journeys aim to stop every hour to let your dog go to the toilet and have a short walk to prevent any accidents.
  • Be mindful where you pitch. We always try to get an end pitch, so it is more secluded and there are less distractions and annoyances.
  • Bath time – If you’ve got an outside tap great! But if not, we recommend taking a foldable bucket and sponge to get the worst of the mud off your dog.
  • Washable furniture coverings – To stop those muddy paw prints getting all over the lovely, but light coloured, upholstery.
  • Like us our dogs love their home comforts; taking their beds in the motorhome can help keep them settled and comfortable.

We will update this blog post from time to time but recognise that the www.gov.uk website is probably the most up-to-date source of all information regarding the legal and public health issues surrounding pet travel abroad. Take care out there and do your research.

Read more

Want to learn more about the laws and rules you need to know when going on holiday? Read our article on using a disabled badge in Europe.

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